The aim of the present study is to correlate non-invasive, pretreatment biological imaging (dynamic contrast enhanced-MRI [DCE-MRI] and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy [(1)H-MRS]) findings with specific molecular marker data in neck nodal metastases of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients. Pretreatment DCE-MRI and (1)H-MRS were performed on neck nodal metastases of 12 patients who underwent surgery. Surgical specimens were analyzed with immunohistochemistry (IHC) assays for: Ki-67 (reflecting cellular proliferation), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) (the "endogenous marker" of tumor vessel growth), carbonic anhydrase (CAIX), hypoxia inducible transcription factor (HIF-1?), and human papillomavirus (HPV). Additionally, necrosis was estimated based on H&E staining. The Spearman correlation was used to compare DCE-MRI, (1)H-MRS, and molecular marker data. A significant correlation was observed between DCE-MRI parameter std(k(ep)) and VEGF IHC expression level (rho=0.81, p=0.0001). Furthermore, IHC expression levels of Ki-67 inversely correlated with std(K(trans)) and std(v(e)) (rho=-0.71; p=0.004, and rho=-0.73; p=0.003, respectively). Other DCE-MRI, (1)H-MRS and IHC values did not show significant correlation. The results of this preliminary study indicate that the level of heterogeneity of perfusion in metastatic HNSCC seems positively correlated with angiogenesis, and inversely correlated with proliferation. These results are preliminary in nature and are indicative, and not definitive, trends portrayed in HNSCC patients with nodal disease. Future studies with larger patient populations need to be carried out to validate and clarify our preliminary findings.
- Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
- Molecular markers